My feed on X has filled with posts from officials of Ukraine, Romania and the Netherlands touting the opening of the European F-16 Training Center in Romania. Highlighting this was a video of Ukrainian pilots showing off their newly acquired skills in piloting said aircraft. The word “resolve” comes to mind given that I can write that sentence at all — for a long time, the West refused the beleaguered nation access to advanced jets. “Resolve” also speaks to the dangerous test ahead hinted at in that hesitancy.
For a government that was supposed to fail after two days of full-on Russian assault, the Ukrainians have shown a master class in resolve. Yes, worldwide aid has been a fuel for that resolve, but we’ve seen enough examples to know plenty of weapons without resolve is a good way to hand weaponry over to hostile forces, not a way to create resolve. People provide the backbone.
It made sense, (albeit I thought wrongheaded sense)[https://ofb.biz/safari/article/976.html], for NATO to stand aside early on, when there was a live question of whether the Kyiv government could hold out against Russia. Fresh from the disaster that was Afghanistan, the fear that we would be stocking Russia’s arsenal, when they inevitably took over, was rational.
The continued delays in empowering the Ukrainians, however, are not. If you are skeptical, please allow me to explain.
From a humanitarian standpoint, the case is clear. For all the present protests over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the utter humanitarian toll of the Russian war on Ukraine is orders of magnitude greater.
To be sure, the horrifying images of October 7 sear in the minds of anyone willing to admit Hamas is what it explicitly claims to be: a genocidal organization bent on the extermination of the Jews. Because mobs aren’t the wisest, the protests are against a nation that had its own 9/11 twenty-two years and a month after America’s..
Let’s assume (incorrectly, but bear with me) that all the protesters are siding how they are because they feel awful for average Gazans suffering in the crossfire. Remove the protesters holding anti-semitic signs and chanting anti-semitic slogans. Even if all that were so, at best, the protests show our passing resolve.
Here is the cause for the moment! Divided as our society is, some will rally for Israel, others for the Palestinians, but in a few months, few will gather for either.
The dubious morality of the pro-Palestinian cause, overly eager to overlook who has repeatedly started wars, including this one, and continues to show blatant disregard for civilian life hints at our amoral, FOMO rationale for awareness and protests. Most of the people getting all wrapped up in the mob have little clue, it is just the cause of the moment.
Ukraine held that same place the better part of two years ago. Briefly, all but the most fringe players in our political sphere rallied for the clear victim of unprovoked aggression.
Time has given the fringe players opportunity to claim ethnic Russians in Ukraine want Russian control (despite clear public polling data to the contrary), to buy into the idea that an ethnically Jewish, democratically elected head of state is somehow a Nazi dictator (and not his adversary who is an authoritarian ruler of a police state) or invent alleged Christian persecution in Ukraine (hint: tellingly no one who understands Eastern Orthodoxy is concerned, because the only opposition is to Russian state influence, not to Christian practice). Some have argued surrendering to Russia as a mercy to civilians dying — against those civilians wishes — as if handing over a people to a government that desires genocide for them could end well. This has chipped away at support for Ukraine as it gets parroted by figures like Tucker Carlson and Vivek Ramaswamy and then received by people who don’t have any idea how things like Eastern Orthodox Christianity work.
The true danger for Ukraine though is not this garbage, however. The true danger is our temporary resolve. From the get-go, Russia, keen observer of the West that it is, has been operating on the principle that as went Afghanistan, so will go Ukraine.
Though the war in Ukraine does not involve any American soldiers dying, and the war is less than two years in the running, Russian President Putin has likely bet that if Americans could barely stomach supporting a friendly government in Afghanistan for two decades — despite the opposition being tied to the worst terror attack in American history — then our move to boredom would come even faster for Ukraine.
In this, Russia may be right.
Not even cogent self-interested arguments appear to be enough to lock in our resolve. In last week’s GOP Presidential debate, Sen. Tim Scott asserted the incredible return in reducing our adversary Russia’s ability to strike by supporting Ukraine. Those watching closely have long observed that for the tiny percentage of our defense spending that Ukrainian support adds up to, the return on investment is perhaps higher than any dollar in memory spent on our military. Our world is better off if Russia isn’t as able to antagonize.
Our resolve is too weak even to help ourselves, much less be genuinely bothered by the horrors of tens of thousands of unnecessary civilian deaths.
As Ukrainoskepticism is rising, amongst some GOP voters, the F-16 training center launch is an even stronger call for those who are resolved in both parties to end all hesitation now. The American public’s direction is clear: we will fade in resolve over time, no matter how just the cause. So, we need to quit handing out assistance piecemeal while a modicum of determination lingers. Ukraine needs more air defense, more F-16s, more ammunition — more of everything to wage a successful defense of its country quickly.
Quickly will bring an end rather than a stalemate to the war. Quickly will save civilian lives. Quickly will show the public the war is winnable.
Quickly will make these things happen before public resolve dissolves so fully that it only reemerges when Russia figures out its next victim. Russia is resolved, so if the West is willing to abandon a determined, hopeful democracy, they will next try to reconquer other parts of their former empire.
It all comes down to if we have the resolve.